The Gallerist First Impressions

Premium User
Review

After winning back to back weekly challenges and seeking out some advice of the community, I decided on picking up an expensive, heavy game because...why not? It's not like I would ever splurge on a $100+ game on my own (let's ignore the fact I bought #Food Chain Magnate not long before these wins..).

had requested my impressions once I had a chance to play, so here goes nothing! It's worth noting the game arrived Sunday and I've only gotten a chance to play once after work yesterday at 2 players.

The Components

Immediately after opening the shipping container my first thought was: "wow this box is huge!" It's almost too big for everything it comes with and I have no earthly idea where this game will fit on my bookshelves. Because of this, it's just been sitting on our kitchen table until further notice. After opening up the actual box, I was met with some thick cardboard punch boards. All the components punched out smoothly with no issues and they feel great and sturdy. Other than that, there's some cards - curator, art dealer, and contracts - that weren't anything special, a ton of wooden meeples, and wooden gallerist pawns. All in all pretty standard for a well produced euro in my opinion.

The Rulebook

Oh boy was this a mess. I think the issue is the game is too complicated for what it is and trying to find a streamlined way to teach the game via a rulebook is out of the question. What did it in for me, in particular, was that they start off with almost an overview of how the game plays without actually describing any of the actions in detail until later. There are a lot of pictures that mostly help, but the formatting of how everything is written and where it's located on the pages was super confusing for me. So confusing in fact that I decided to forgo learning the rules from the rulebook and instead watch the "Watch it Played" rules explanation by Rodney Smith. This went much smoother but by the end of the video I was feeling really overwhelmed and praying I would be able to teach the game to my fiance lol.

I really did appreciate the player aids. These are excellent at giving both brief step by step instructions/explanations of the different actions on one side and on the back side a glossary for a lot of the iconography shown throughout the game. About half way through, we actually were able to perform the actions of spaces without looking at the aids!

Gameplay

Once past the rules overhead, the game is actually quite simple. You more or less place your pawn on an action area and take one of two actions for that area. In addition, there are "executive actions" that you can optionally take before or after your turn. If a player ever places their pawn where your pawn or assistant is located, you may take a "knock-out action" after that player finishes their turn. I'm not about to rehash all the actions (sorry not sorry lol) but the main point of the game is to collect the most money primarily by buying and selling pieces of art, gaining influence, and gaining fame. Many of the actions have several step long instructions. A lot of "flip this then place this and move that then optionally do this secondary action." I'm not an expert of game design, but this felt complicated for the sake of being complicated. This was the first new (to me) heavy game in awhile that I've played and felt I didn't mess anything up which was a big relief and suprise.

Both myself and my fiance agreed that while there are a lot of end game scoring conditions to collect and attempt to fufill, the game lacks more immediate scoring. This makes it difficult to know how well you're doing, which I suppose could be a good thing as it would keep players more engaged in the game until the end. Speaking of the end, I felt it came up fairly quickly. We emptied the bag of visitors a lot faster than I thought we would. The tickets emptied fast as well and those two conditions combined ended the game for us. I won a fairly close game 104-94. It took us about 2 hours not including set up or the 35 min I spent watching the how to play video. That does include me teaching the game to her however.

Theme

The general theme of the game is of course owning a gallery and selling works of art for money. You're ultimately trying to build the most famous/prestigious art gallery. I know theming is supposed to be a big aspect of Lacerda's so I was really thinking I would feel like I was actually procuring and selling art to a bunch of snobby art dealers/collectors. While I think the theming is certainly heavier than other games I have played, I still think it fell short in giving me that sense. It would benefit to having some background for the different artists and maybe something like exclusivity bonuses. The game gives a benefit to the first player who "discovers" an artist, but beyond that there felt like there was no more reason to try and increase an artist's fame as it benefited all players who own/display their work.

Final Thoughts

It felt more like a brain burn than a game to me. After playing I just felt drained and ready for bed. That being said it was a long day leading up to that so that may not be just influenced by my play alone. I won't say I didn't enjoy the game because I really have an itch to play again to see what I can do to better optimize my action selections.

My fiance felt I had a better grasp of the game than she did despite her having more pieces of art both displayed and sold by the end of the game. I just think my focus was more on the influence track and international market whereas she was trying to fufill her art dealer and curator card bonuses. I will say the game was a lot closer than I thought it would have been. She maintains she would have won if she had a better understanding of the end game trigger conditions lol. 

Overall I think the design overcomplicates what is a fairly simple worker placement game. The theming is just okay to me, but with a few changes could have been great (although most likely a lot more complicated). There's a definite puzzle aspect to the scoring system which I did enjoy despite using my full brain capacity to play lol. I will definitely be playing this again assuming my fiance will play with me. She did say afterwards that she'll give it another shot. Usually she needs a minimum of 2 plays to really get into something heavier. If I had to rate this game right now, I'd give it a 7/10.

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2 months ago

I will say that I was a little lukewarm on this game at first, but I enjoyed it more over the last handful of plays my wife and I have played.  I think the game made me feel pulled in every direction, but I started enjoying it more once I was comfortable with ignoring what it felt like the game wanted me to do, which felt like everything.... and then Bam! Game ends before you're ready.  I also needed to become comfortable with the fact that everything is so interconnected that it's hard to conceptualize how to play long term at first.  It does begin to flow easier and become less taxing after the first couple plays if that's an encouragement for you.  

Premium User2 months ago

Encouraging for sure! Interesting that you thought the game wanted you to do everything. My fiance felt strongly that there were only 2 plausible actions for her to take every turn..pretty sure buying and selling. Of course there has to be some set up to get there and like I mentioned she was heavily focused on those hidden scoring cards so maybe that influenced her stance a bit.

2 months ago

I felt the same when I first started playing. I only felt like buying and selling made the most sense. Then my wife and I had a few games that were won because one person ended with two celebrity paintings in their gallery and won the auction which both completed another set for them and gave them another celebrity painting.  Definitely changed how I felt about what to prioritize. 

Now I look a lot to all the little extra actions in the international market, media center, when discovering artists, when placing reputation tiles, and when hiring assistants. I also have a bad habit of hoarding more meeples in my gallery than makes sense early on because it feels good to have my gallery full of potential.  Action efficiency and ensuring you have enough assistants to trigger extra actions on contract cards, get kick-out actions, and take spots in the market and auction have swung some of our games also. And I also have a hard time selling a painting I bought without wanting to keep holding onto it because I look down at its value and it's always so close to another 3 coins of profit if I can just be poor for a few turns longer and give them just a bit more promoting.

For any Lacerda game, I would highly recommend the Lacerda series of videos on Before You Play's youtube channel. Without watching those first, I wouldn't have been as interested in these games. They give a great headstart to making them feel approachable and understandable.

Premium User2 months ago

Thanks for the suggestion! I'll give it a watch a little later

2 months ago

Thanks for the write up! Very detailed and honest. I am used to people just gushing over this game so I am glad you were able to share some candid thoughts. Vital Lacerda games either click or they don't from what I have heard from a lot of people. You have to go in with the mindset that the systems will be complex and may feel overly complex but they "make sense" in the context of the theme. 

The term or phrase I think of when reading your review is thinking through "is this juice worth the squeeze" meaning is the brain power expelled worth the game experience? It sounds like it was burdensome at this this first play. I am curious how it goes once you have some additional plays and are more familiar with the rules. 

Premium User2 months ago

Definitely think it's "worth the squeeze," just maybe not if I play it after work again. Burdensome is a good way to describe it as there was a lot of (at least in the first half of the game) referencing the player aids/rulebook to ensure we were playing properly. And as I stated a lot of steps involved with some of those actions made it particularly hard to remember every detail. Maybe when we are more familiar I'll gush over it more ;P

2 months ago

Ya Lacerda is not a post work, I am gonna try and learn it real quick type of designer lol. I would do a lot of homework before getting it to the table!

Premium User2 months ago

Yeaaahh I'll have to do some more homework before we give it another go Sunday

2 months ago

I always get really frustrated with a game if I constantly have to refer to the rule book even if I know I like the game. It just messes with the flow. Hopefully that helps out the experience!

2 months ago

Great write up! I've heard that some Lacerda games can feel overly complex for the sake of being complex, but some of them are quite highly rated as well! To each their own, I guess. I'd probably land somewhere close to your assessment. Do you think that next time it will feel less brain burny and more gamey since you won't be learning the game at the same time?

Premium User2 months ago

Yeah I feel like it will be better next time I play due to the fact I'm not learning at the same time and I don't plan to play after a 9 hour work day! I think we agreed on Sunday morning..

2 months ago

Oh yeah, the energy level will have a huge effect on the enjoyment. I'm almost always up for a game, but with my wife, there are days when I know better than to try to force a game. She just won't enjoy it on those days, and that will decrease her overall appreciation for my hobby, which is bad for me in the long run, haha

Supporter59 days ago

This is definitley a game that I'd prefer that someone teach me lol

Premium User59 days ago

Hahaha I felt the same after I played! I took 's suggestion and watched the Before You Play rules explanation and am about a 3rd of the way through the playthrough and it's definitely helpful in terms of confirming we didn't make a whole lot of rules goofs. I'm giving it another try tomorrow and hoping it goes smoother...

57 days ago

Cool! I find their playthroughs most helpful for me; I usually glaze over during how-to-plays.

Supporter59 days ago

ah... always a good idea

Supporter2 months ago

Great review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Personally this one is the lowest in my wishlist for Lacerda games. The theme just doesn't do it for me and it doesn't really seem all that interesting. It's awesome that you were able to pick it up and try it though!

Premium User2 months ago

Thanks! I had it on my radar because I recently backed the (much simpler)#Mercado de Lisboa on KS and they let you add past games onto your pledge. After reading about the game's themes this one and#Vinhos Deluxe interested us the most. We'll see how things go on our next playthrough

Premium User2 months ago

Very. very good review.  If you play again and decide you're tired of this game; look up my WadeB1977 on BGG and let's see if we can barter a trade ;)   I would love to hear how it goes when you play again and also the solo variant if you get around to playing that.

Supporter2 months ago

LOL

Premium User2 months ago

Sounds good! Not sure when we'll play again but I can let you know how it goes

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The Gallerist